COLUMBUS, OH, August 2, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Ohioans who buy government-mandated health insurance through ObamaCare’s new state exchanges next year can expect 41 percent higher rates, according to the state insurance commissioner.
Insurance commissioner Mary Taylor, who is also Ohio’s Lieutenant Governor, says that ObamaCare’s mandated coverage for things that used to be optional, such as contraceptives and sterilizations, and the red tape and oversight that comes with it is driving the average cost of individual health care premiums up.
This contrasts with the Obama administration’s claim that the new laws will make health care affordable for all.
Currently, the average premium in the individual market is $236.29 per month, according to Taylor. Under ObamaCare, it will be $336.44.
“The ACA [Affordable Care Act] requires more benefits that every consumer is required to purchase regardless of whether they want them, need them, or can afford them,” Taylor said.
“Ohio has traditionally had a more competitive health-insurance market than other states with a wider range of prices and choices — from simple, high-deductible coverage to comprehensive, full-service plans,” Taylor added. “That level of diversity is essentially outlawed under ObamaCare, so Ohio’s rates and premiums are going up significantly, and going up more than in other states where prices were already high.”
Said Taylor, “The bottom line is [ObamaCare] is driving up premiums across the country.”
U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner, who represents Ohio’s 8th congressional district, said the state’s predicament was proof that the president's health care reform law is making American health care worse, not better.
“The announcement today in Ohio by Lt. Gov. Taylor is irrefutable evidence that the president’s health care law is not ‘working fine,’” said Boehner. “To the contrary, it is hurting our economy, driving up the cost of health care and making it harder for small businesses to hire workers.”
Ohio Senator Rob Portman agreed. “ObamaCare is making things more difficult for families struggling to make ends meet;” the senator said, “it’s making it harder for them to keep their heads above water.”
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But ObamaCare’s defenders say Taylor and her colleagues are missing the big picture. Col Owens, co-chairman of Ohio Consumers for Health Coverage, told the Columbus Dispatch that even though coverage will be more expensive for most people under ObamaCare, consumers will get more services for their money because of the mandates, added benefits he believes are worth the price. He said those who truly can’t afford it will be eligible for government subsidies.
“They ought to be saying that premiums are going to go up, but more people are going to be covered and coverage will be better because it must meet essential health-benefits criteria, and it’s going to be more affordable because people who need help paying for it will get help,” Owens said. “When you put all that together, it’s a very different message.”
Cathy Levine, executive director of the Universal Health Care Action Network of Ohio, said that it was necessary for healthy people to pay higher premiums in order to cover the roughly one million people with serious pre-existing conditions who had been ineligible for health insurance before ObamaCare forbade insurance companies from denying them coverage.
“It’s too bad for Ohio consumers that Mary Taylor has concealed as bad news what is actually great news – that the federal exchange will increase access to affordable health insurance to nearly 1 million people who are currently shut out of the insurance market,” Levine said.
Steffany Larkins, chief of staff for the Medical Mutual of Ohio insurance company, told Cleveland.com that “everybody will pay more” under the new health care law. On the bright side, she said, ObamaCare’s mandates enable consumers to “utilize a broader base of benefits” at the higher price.
Ohio’s rate jump announcement comes on the heels of a letter sent earlier this week by Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens to the Obama administration’s Department of Health and Human Services. In the letter, Hudgens notified HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that health insurance rates in Georgia will rise nearly 200 percent under ObamaCare, and asked for an explanation from the Obama administration, as well as more time.
“Georgia insurance companies are demanding massive rate increases up to 198 percent for some individuals.” Hudgens wrote to Sebelius. “Companies opting to participate in the Exchange have provided the Department with evidence that their rates are justified and in compliance with Georgia law, citing the new ObamaCare mandates as the reason.”
“Georgia consumers cannot afford these massive rate increases,” Hudgens added. “I was always skeptical of ObamaCare…But I never imagined that it would lead to rates being doubled or tripled…Increases of this magnitude will make coverage less affordable and increase the number of uninsured in Georgia.”
Hudgens asked Sebelius to clarify whether the massive increases were actually allowable under ObamaCare, and to give the state 30 extra days before it must publish its final rates.